Archive for August, 2009

Modern LoveSunday’s Modern Love article, Once Political, Now Just Practical, by Sara Sarasohn, went beyond the gay marriage debate and dove into the role of a wife (in the context of feminism and gay marriage.) I enjoyed reading her contemporary and personal response to the 1971, Ms. Magazine essay by Judy Syfers, “Why I Want a Wife.”

If you are married or considering getting married, how do you define your roles?

I sometimes lament the fact my actions and interests are more “feminine” than I expect. (I cook, write poetry and teach. I tend to do many of the chores around the house.) I do not consider myself to be a “traditional” woman, yet, I might be more traditional that I would label myself.  

This morning over breakfast, my fiance’ and I discussed what untraditional things I do or could do if I wanted to. I couldn’t think of something that would fit in that category that I would aspire to doing.

Are we lucky enough to live in an era when everything is open to women? Perhaps everything is an option for women who are lucky enough to have certain educational opportunities, but there are many fields that remain difficult for a woman. I have experienced sexism throughout my career and outside of the home (that’s for another post.) At home, however, I don’t feel pressured into doing anything in particular. I truly enjoy many of the “traditional” things that I do (ok, maybe not dusting.)

Maybe the question is: how does the world see me? I would hate to have my actions suggest to a younger woman that she is required to do the things that I choose to do.

I hope that our post-feminist world, as it is called at times, allows us to make the choices we want to, including those within the more traditional realm.

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AROHO @ Ghost RanchErika Dreifus, our lovely Practicing Writing Blogger, posted Part II of my experience at the retreat hosted by A Room Of Her Own (AROHO.) I think you’ll enjoy reading some tidbits of wisdom I learned from the workshop leaders, like Rita Dove, and more.

You can read Part I here.

Thanks, Erika!

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An Intimate Surprise

Recently, I read about Intimate Surprises  in the Smith College alum magazine. Surprise presents… what a great idea! We all know how life (you know, laundry and the like) can get in the way of the more important things. The things that took priority in the beginning of a relationship and perhaps get forgotten from time to time. The things that should never be forgotten.

I contacted Jennifer to ask about how the surprises work.  Be sure to scroll to the end for your coupon.


How did you come up with the idea for Intimate Surprises? 

My husband and I were talking about how so many of our friends see  to spend more time on their careers and families and kids than they do on their relationships. The job and kid obligations come first and if there’s any time and energy left over maybe they go out for a night as a couple at some point. And staring at each other over a plate of pasta or sitting in the dark in a movie theater didn’t sound terribly “intimate” to us. I said to him, “There should be some sort of Cupid of the Month club to help couples remember to take time out for themselves.” And so Intimate Surprises was born.

What kinds of “surprises” are included in the packages? 

Each month as a different “theme.” The first month is all about warming up – to the idea of a monthly surprise and to each other. Each month contains up to five items, which can include toys, activities, and enhancers. The themes are really just a starting point, something to tie it all together so it’s not just a bunch of random things arriving in the mail.

Since couples are so different, how do you personalize the gifts or ensure that they are right for your clients? 

With up to five items there is sure to be something that appeals to everyone. That said, the items are also designed to provide fun for men, for women, and for both of them together as a couple. The idea is to bring a couple together, to help them explore the intimate side of their relationship. But it’s also about fun, just doing something together where the focus is on enjoying themselves. And while each month has a theme it’s really just for guidance – what couples do is ultimately all up to them!

How are the packages delivered? 

Surprises are delivered via priority mail in plain brown cardboard boxes. Nothing to pique the interest of nosy neighbors.

The “surprises” can be given as gifts. What is the most unique gift situation you’ve heard of (bridal party gift to the newlyweds, shower gift, etc.) 

We’ve received the nicest emails from people. What’s surprised us is how diverse our customers have been – many couples married more than 20 years, a couple who counsels newlyweds for their church, a couple serving in the military overseas. We’ve also had same sex couples order surprises. I think the ones we love to hear about are the couples who have been together for a long time, it just goes to show that when couples take the time to care for their relationship it really makes a difference.

Giving a gift like this can be potentially embarrassing if the wrong person finds it. If I order one and then my mom comes over and see the box, what should I tell her is inside? 

Aside from the plain brown box, the surprises come in lovely silver organza bags and we’ve heard from a few customers that they’ve actually re-used the bags for other purposes. One woman’s mom actually liked it so much she asked where her daughter got it from. Obviously, she didn’t tell her. That said, my parents know all about our business and what we’re doing and they think it’s great. But thank god they haven’t placed an order! I don’t think I could handle that.

What would be your dream Intimate Surprise to receive from your love? 

A promise to always keep things fun.


Please use coupon code TEN001 to receive 10% off your online order. Read more about the different kinds of surprises (all natural, hotel, etc.) here.

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How many of you have been to a wedding shower where you were asked embarrassing questions about where the couple first made out? Or forced to listen to the bride gloat about “her” china? A girl could go crazy wrapped up in an afternoon of tulle.

You might think I lack all romance. Maybe, but I prefer to think that I am drawn to more sincere, unique events. 

First, let me share some fond memories of bridal showers. I remember my friend Robin’s bridal shower was in her parents’ living room. All of the guests were comfortable on the couches and got swept up into Robin’s larger than life smile. She was marrying her true love.

Remembering that beautiful day, Robin writes, “I really loved my shower because it was so very relaxed. Being in my parents home, and ensuring that everyone was comfortable and having discussions really made it more enjoyable for me.  I didn’t really want to open up gift after gift. I’ve sat through it so many times and thought it was quite boring because the bride can tend to go on and on about how they picked each present. However, as I was opening the presents, realized that I could make it about the people who were giving me the gifts. For example, I mentioned how we met, why I thought that they are so wonderful, etc.  That really made it a celebration of our love and friendships, versus an opening of a bunch of stuff that we had picked out ourselves!”

My friend Christa’s bridal shower was in a lovely restaurant. In a small, private room, we gathered around a large table and shared stories. I was happy to be reunited with some graduate school friends and we had a great time. Besides sharing the bride’s happy day, weddings and wedding events are a time to get together with friends. 

Planning a bridal shower can be daunting. I asked around and found some solid advice to share with you.

Hila, a recent maid of honor, writes, “The two games that I planned were nice but not too cheesy: a trivia game where you ask the bride and groom questions about each other in advance and then compare their answers at the shower and see how they did. The other was to have everyone at the shower write advice for the bride, but each piece of advice started with a letter of the bride and groom’s names– I compiled the advice into a hand-made little book shaped like a heart, with each letter glued on in yarn—‘cause the bride was a knitter! Then we had the bride read the advice (both heartwarming and embarrassing) out loud at the shower. Also, I refused to make her wear that horrible hat. I think she appreciated it.” Great ideas, Hila! 

Another unique way to incorporate your own thoughts and words comes from Marni, the owner and artist from Creative Custom Cardboxes  (and a member of the Weddings by Artists Network) is a custom card box filled with wishes. A “Shower Her With Wishes” box is handmade and could be filled with personalized sentiments from the guests and bridal party alike. You might enjoy reading posts on her blog about wedding showers for some more ideas.

My friend Yasmin, who is leading my “bridesmaids” (I have renamed them “Wonderful Women of The Wedding”, since I think having “maids” sounds a bit outdated) recommends this book: Bridesmaid Guide by Kate Chynoweth. She adds, “probably none of the guides are perfect since taste is so variable, but they touch on lots of ideas.” the bridesmaid guide

I know it is tradition to cover a hat with ribbons from the presents that the bride opens. I’ve always found this endearing. Maybe this sentiment is a bit contradictory, since I usually bristle when faced with more traditional aspects of weddings, but this handmade object is always overflowing with love. As long as the bridesmaid in charge of tying, stapling or gluing the ribbons isn’t being yelled at by family members and start to cry (which I’ve seen), I think this is a sweet tradition.

If you are planning a bridal shower, I hope these few ideas help to get you started. Feel free to share great ideas you’ve experienced or are planning below in the comments section. 


PS: Hats off to Yasmin for all of her hard work!

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A Room of Her Own Retreat photo by Miriam BerkleyThank you to Erika Dreifus for inviting me to blog a second time for her wonderful Practicing Writing blog. (You might remember my first blog, Writing Your Family History.)

I mentioned to Erika that I would be attending A Room of Her Own’s summer writing retreat on the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. She asked me to write a two-part series on the retreat. This first blog post was written before leaving for the retreat. I describe my expectations and preparations for the one week writing retreat for female authors located where Georgia O’Keefe was inspired to paint her southwest landscapes. I begin with a few obsessions.

Stay tuned for the second one about my experiences.

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